Top Five Reasons to Use Your “YOUCAT”

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UPDATE TO ALL: I understand that there are issues with the YOUCAT. (1) It is not the actual Catechism nor should it be treated as such. (2) Some of the ambiguities can stimulate conversation and some of which are just in the Italian translation. (3) In an age where millions of young Catholics are terribly under-Catechized (many nominal at best), I don’t see how this resource will be damaging if it inspires many to engage their faith for the first time. The books are being handed out whether we want them to or not. Instead of bringing a scandal that is unnecessary, let’s in the words of Blessed JPII say, “Be Not Afraid!”

If you are reading this, maybe you just received your YOUCAT at World Youth Day in Madrid. Maybe you are not in Madrid (sigh), but already have one (like me–sigh again). Likely, you are someone who may have heard about the YOUCAT but don’t have one yet. once you get one, why should you use it?

#1- Because Papa Says So

When your daddy tells you to do something, you probably ought to do it. Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI commissioned this project in an effort to unlock the kingdom of God for generations that have been told there is no hope. As the one who holds those keys of the kingdom received from St. Peter through his successors in the Petrine office, the Pope reminded us that “in hope we are saved”, even that our faith is grounded in a certain and confident hope (Spe Salvi). The YOUCAT is your opportunity to study your faith, so that your faith may not fail you (Lk 22:32).

"Read your YOUCAT"

#2- Because It’s YOUR Faith

“You need to know what you believe. You need to know your faith with that same precision with which an IT specialist knows the inner workings of a computer.”-PBXVI foreword to the

Its time that when people ask us questions about our faith, we don’t act like a regular tracked students who got shoved into an AP class on accident (Huh?). The beauty of the Catholic faith is that it is simple. The enemy doesn’t want us to know it, so he spreads the evil rumor that Catholicism is like learning origami without hands. Sure the Church has the advantage of 2,000 years of thinking about stuff. Yet it is precisely in her simple, coherent and authoritative (Matt 7:29) teaching that she separates herself from all other teachers, and confounds the wise (1 Cor 1:27).


The Catholic faith has been, is and will always  be about an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ (PBXVI, Deus Caritas Est). We encounter the Risen Christ in the Sacraments of His Church, especially the Eucharist, precisely because we are humans and not angels. We touch, we taste, we smell, hear and see that God is good and his mercy endures forever (Ps 34:8). Learning your faith–with tools like the YOUCAT–empowers you to “know in him you have believed” (2 Tim 1:12).

#3- Because We Got One

The YOUCAT is not the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It’s aredacted, representation of the teachings of the  Church (CCC) in a format conducive to our image driven, too-little-time-for-much culture. Some religions don’t know what they believe. Some pretend they don’t believe anything. As Catholics, our Church is led by the Holy Spirit to infallibly proclaim the Truth (Magisterium). As such, we–as church–are people who believe.

Using the YOUCAT makes a lot of sense. If you had a debit card with a million dollars in an account, you would use it. YOUCAT=Ditto.

#4- Because Your Friends Deserve It

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. Heck, friends don’t let friends get drunk. Great friends will not only keep you out of trouble but will place you on the path to life. As young Catholics, our friendships must include a dynamic engagement of our faith. Faith should not be compartmentalized but should pervade every area of our lives. Knowing your faith is a service to your friends–a service to heaven.

#5- The Truth is the Truth

Remember, the YOUCAT is not the Catechism of the Church. it’s kind of like an official sermon meant for young Catholics.  An über faithful sermon.

Some criticize the YOUCAT‘s copious quotations from non-Catholics, but I like them. St. Paul was always apt at redeeming truth wherever he found it, and in a world where the Church has been painted as outmoded and irrelevant, the YOUCAT does a good job of putting the Church right back into the heart of the cultural conversation. I cannot see how it hurts that a catholic might, in the course of sharing his or her faith, make a reference to a more popularly known figure (there are a ton of saint quotes too). In fact, that is precisely the kind of evangelism we need to foster amongst young Catholics who find themselves living everyday in a more and more secular world.

For a full review written by another contributor for this site, Brandon Vogt, check it out here.

You can buy the YOUCAT here.

Like what I had to say? Hate it? Check me out at my blog where I discuss why I’m Catholic and other things about that @

Brent Stubbs

Brent Stubbs

is a father of five (+ 1 in heaven), husband of one, convert, and a generally interested person. He has a BA in Theology, studied graduate philosophy, has an MBA, is a writer (or so he tells himself) and prefers his coffee black. His website is Almost Not Catholic. His Twitter handle is @2bcatholic. His favorite color is blue.

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63 thoughts on “Top Five Reasons to Use Your “YOUCAT””


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    I love, love, love YOUCAT! I bought it a few weeks ago and it’s simply amazing. Easy, straight forward answers on basically any question you’d want to ask. And I love the quotes too, they’re so encouraging.
    Can’t wait to share this book with others!

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    I haven’t read the YOUCAT so I cannot comment on some of the issues Rick brings up.

    I will say this: I don’t agree with the #1 reason provided by this list. While I think the Pope is a legitimate leader of the Church here on earth, he’s still human. Encouraging people to accept something “because the Pope told us so” is precisely why so many kids peace out of Church as soon as Confirmation classes are over. I’m not saying his opinion shouldn’t be held in high regard… but it also shouldn’t be the #1 reason for action. God Himself is the #1 source of motivation, inspiration, and encouragement for action.

    If this YOUCAT truly is a representation of our faith, we should feel encouraged to read it whether the Pope affirms it or not.

    I’ll stop my Protestant-esque rant now…

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    I hear what you are saying. The list was in no respective order. Sorry if that was confusing. PBXVI is no 15th century Pope. The man is a theological genius who is passionate about young people studying their faith. Young people listening to the genius of a theological scholar par excellence, who–oh yeah–by the way sits on the Chair of St. Peter makes a lot of sense to me (bare in mind, I was raised Protestant). If young people cannot make out why that is a good thing, I doubt they will ever get Catholicism. One can approach Catholicism just like a Protestant, and the net result will be a proximate object of faith not grounded in the Church but in the individual will. See Summa Theologica II-II Q.5 a.3 co.

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    There is nothing at all opposed to obedience and filial devotion to the Pope, in pointing out the *grave* derelictions in the scandalous YouCat. Those of us who remember the scandalous heresy published in the USCCB Adult Catechism in 2007- “therefore the covenant God made with the Jews through uses remains eternally valid for them” (!)- will also remember that the firm and persistent voice of the catholic faithful resulted in the unprecedented decision to remove the offending sentence from future editions. Similar faithful and virtuous action is called for in the face of the arguably *much worse* YouCat.

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    Good point. Maybe we should make a fuss so that the next edition gets corrected. However, looking at my English translation, I see no “grave” derelictions. (looking at your link) The YOUCAT does not say the Bible contains errors. It says the authors were members of their culture. The fact that the O.T. writers use concepts that are arcane about nature proves the authentic historicity of the Bible. I think objection #2 has merit, but what does the CCC say differently? Objection #3 is what the Church teaches, and I think Humani Generis sets the boundaries of what evolution can say (also #4). Objection #5 fails to consider the teleological order of the new creation. I’ve discussed #6 in my #5.



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    So, you try to justify this book that they already have been printed and handed out ?
    and that it’s better than nothing?
    what was wrong with the Compendium?? That was SO IMPORTANT that we get that to The Faithful?
    now, there’s yet ANOTHER innovation another experiment, and the kids are the test subjects.
    So, “The Church does not demonize masturbation, but she warns against trivializing it.”

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    The question on errors in the Bible assumes that the Bible contains errors. The answer doesn’t correct that assumption.

    The book regularly uses phrases that sound like theological silliness instead of just saying something is a sin: “offense against charity”, for example.

    The section on sexual issues is exceedingly weak and requires that you go to other sections of the book and other books entirely to get a complete answer.

    The book is being billed as the “Official Catechism of World Youth Day”. The book isn’t a catechism. A catechism presents the Faith in a clear question and answer format where each answer is a self-contained bit of truth that is further expanded upon as the book progresses. The Youcat is a muddled mess where questions, in some cases aren’t even answered in a coherent way and in others you are required to skip ahead several hundred questions to find out more.

    We quit carrying it because it is so messed up.

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    “So true. Not to mention the great Muslim philosophers Avicenna and Averroes”.

    What did they philosophize so greatly Brent??? – Allah ? his prophet? Aquinas rejected
    indeterminate three-dimensionality ? …keep pushing this youcat poison; you risk paying a great price. You know Rome has ordered corrections…Great!!

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    Then let’s look at the merits of the points brought up in the recall petition…

    Point 1. Scriptural inerrancy is a hot-button theological topic right now. Nobody is really sure how to deal with it perfectly. In fact, the latest meeting of the Pontifical Biblical Commission dealt with it. So I’m glad that the petitioners have their own official magisterial opinion, but the Church is still working on that one.

    Point 2 has various subpoints.
    o The assertion that the YouCat leaves the door open to homosexual behavior doesn’t follow from the text and omits #415 in which it’s explicitly condemned.
    o The treatment of masturbation omits to reference the last sentence of CCC 2352, which supports the YouCat’s text.
    o The NFP argument can only possibly get to the “it might be misleading” level, so it’s rather superficial anyway.
    o The petition’s definition of what fatherhood and motherhood should be isn’t contained in Vatican II (certainly not Gaudium et Spes, which goes in-depth on the nature of the family) or the CCC, as far as I know, and JP2 would have some pretty strong things to say about it.
    o Regarding brain death, the petition explicitly rejects current Church teaching on brain death.

    Points 3 and 4 are on evolution and completely omit recent papal magisterial pronouncements and CCC 282-289, as well as the method with which CCC 290-314 read Genesis.

    Point 5 is just silly if you take into account St. Paul’s idea of the “new creation in Christ.” Of course creation isn’t limited to the 6 days mentioned in Genesis, in the sense in which St. Paul speaks.

    Point 6 misses the point of the YouCat’s eminently Catholic strategy of letting truth speak for itself wherever it is found, as Sister Lisa pointed out.

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    I have to agree with Ian. This “YouCat” that isn’t a catechism, is at best weakly worded and at worst theologically flawed. As one example, to not say that sexual sin is a sin and assume that those reading it already know that is scarey. I have been involved in youth ministry way too long to think young people know what is sin and what isn’t.

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    409 in the YOUCAT: “Masturbation is an offense against love, because it makes the excitement of sexual pleasure an end to itself and uncouples it from the holistic unfolding of love between a man and a woman. That is why “sex with your self” is a contradiction in terms.

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    A couple of other examples:

    “serious offense against charity”, “contrary to the order of creation” (in reference to homosexuality)

    Just call it a sin! These phrases are not going to be understood by your average teen, let alone your average adult. Further, there isn’t any place you can go to find out that either of these terms actually means sin.

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    Jennifer Mazzara

    I think it’s another case where the hyper-catechized are villifying something “new” without giving it a fair shake. YouCat is the first Catechism many young Catholics have ever seen, and it might be the last. It’s there, it’s in their hands, and they know it was written especially for them. Just be happy kids are reading something, ANYthing, about Christ and His Church. It won’t kill them. That’s like saying “don’t feed kids McDonalds when they’re starving, because steak and vegetables is so much better!” Come on, people. Catholics out there are starving, and if the YouCat is what’s available to them, I think encouragement and support are in order.

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    Promoting something because it is (supposedly) the only thing available is very weak tea.

    Father McBride’s Teen Catechism and the reliable Baltimore Catechism 2 & 3 are far better and are meant for middle school and teens. They may not be “hip” but at least they are clear.

    AS a bookstore owner I am always on the lookout for new things that will help explain the Faith so your caricature is unfounded. I just happen to look at the quality of the product instead of the hype.

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    Jennifer Mazzara

    Meh. Weak tea. Earlier someone said that promoting something just because it came from the Pope was weak tea. If Papal approval doesn’t count for anything, then I guess you’re right, widespread availability shouldn’t count for anything either–it’s admittedly an infinitely less compelling reason to be supportive.

    I don’t deny that there are better things out there. I teach RCIA, give Confirmation retreats, my brother is a youth coordinator…there’s tons of things out there that are less “trendy,” and possibly better quality, than the YouCat. Those things, too, will probably stand the test of time better than the YouCat. So what?

    I’m just saying it’s unnecessarily divisive and counter-productive for faithful Catholics to kick up a fuss over something that, really, is pretty harmless. We’re all on the same team. Why can’t [internet] Catholics seem to put up an equally doughty fuss when Protestants misrepresent the Church, or when the secular media outright lies about it?

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    @Jennifer The problem is that when you are discussing sin you don’t want to cause confusion. We’re talking about salvation here, not the morning crossword.

    Widespread availability is meaningless. The gruel that has passed for RE material for the past 40 years was available in every parish.

    Papal approval is certainly something to consider but I don’t think that those who wrote the book or the pope really thought about the audience they were aiming at. Many of the terms used in the book would work well in a philosophical treatise or an encyclical where the audience is assumed to have a firm grasp of the Faith already. This book is for teens and anyone who knows an average Catholic teen knows that their knowledge of the Faith is spotty at best and downright wrong in many cases. You don’t give a book with vague explanations of sin and salvation to that kind of audience.

    As far as external forces, there are plenty of Catholic organizations that do that just fine. I run a Catholic bookstore so my “job” as a bookstore owner is to promote what will strengthen the Faith for people and caution against things that will cause confusion.

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    Does anyone else think it’s ironic (even laughable) that an anonymous Internet petition’s theological and catechetical wisdom is being blindly followed to denigrate a book with imprimaturs in several countries and a foreword by the Holy Father?

    If fidelity to the Church’s doctrine as taught by its pastors isn’t the foundation of our discussion, count me out.

    @ Ian, regarding the genesis of YouCat, you might be interested in this link. I think they did far more research than you give them credit for. You might also want to read the YouCat’s section on sin, especially 315.

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    @Fr. Shane: I’m not saying that the book doesn’t talk about sin. I am saying that certain actions that are sinful are explained in vague terms that leaves you wondering if it is a sin or not.

    An imprimatur means that a title doesn’t contain heresy. It doesn’t say that it is well written or even that the theological points can be easily misconstrued.

    Remember, Fr. McBrien’s “Catholicism” had an imprimatur from the US Bishops’ Conference for almost a decade before it was revoked because the book in multiple editions was heretical.

    The problem here is that

  20. Avatar

    Here is what I see to be one of the big problems, Ian eludes to it. He says this book is for teens. Now I don’t know who the book is aimed at. However, WYD is not for teens. The US is the only country (maybe Canada) who markets it to teens. Canada droped the age to allow 17 and 18 year olds to go and I believe other countries have done likewise since. Only in the US were all highschool students allowed to attend. This was a young adult event previous to Denver. So if this book was written to give out at WYD and not written in the US, it most likely was aimed at young adults. Now my husband is a Catholic “Campus Minister” and I know that college students aren’t much better catacized than highschool students but they may be able to make the jump that lack of charity does better than your average 14-15 year old.
    One of the other things that really rubs me wrong is that people keep refering to this book as a catechism. That would be like calling Do Adam and Eve Really Have Belly Buttons a catechism because it teaches catechesis in an question and answer format.
    Now the most troubling thing for me is the Papal endorsement. Based on what my husband (who has a theology degree) and I have read, it is extremely troubling that the Pope has said this should be in the hands of the youth. That disclaimer being said, just because he endorsed it doesn’t mean it HAS to be in the hands of the youth. If their are errors then it shouldn’t be. He did not say it was infaliable.
    The discussion that any book they read on Catholicism is ok is ludicrous. That is like the people who tell me as long as my kid is reading I don’t care what they read. Yikes. Look we have spent the last I don’t know how long cleaning up from the lack of real catechesis for our children and still suffering from that. We need to be really sure we aren’t still creating the same problem.

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    @ Ian, Times have changed. You no longer have to “play defense” against the bishops. They’re faithful Catholics too. The McBrien example, thanks be to God, is history. Also, regarding homosexuality, YouCat #65 says “Homosexual practices cannot be approved by the Church,” and it gives a reference to the numbers of the CCC that discuss the sinfulness of homosexual practices.

    @ Jenni, It’s great to hear that your husband has a theology degree. So do I. But don’t all three of us have to trust the judgment of the Pope, who has 4 degrees in theology, taught theology at the university level, has written 100+ books, and ran the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for 24 years? Besides, he’s Pope…

    This much hairsplitting is only possible in a theological discussion. 🙂 Are we running the risk of missing the big picture?

    (I’ll bow out of your discussion now. Thanks for listening, though.)

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    Oh, one more thing on something Ian said:

    My “job” as a bookstore owner is to promote what will strengthen the Faith for people and caution against things that will cause confusion.

    True. But canon law (canon 386) uses practically those same words to describe the role of the diocesan bishop.

    §1. A diocesan bishop, frequently preaching in person, is bound to propose and explain to the faithful the truths of the faith which are to be believed and applied to morals. He is also to take care that the prescripts of the canons on the ministry of the word, especially those on the homily and catechetical instruction, are carefully observed so that the whole Christian doctrine is handed on to all.
    §2. Through more suitable means, he is firmly to protect the integrity and unity of the faith to be believed, while nonetheless acknowledging a just freedom in further investigating its truths.

    For what it’s worth. Just so that we keep the roles straight. Our own participation in the teaching ministry of the Church (which is discussed for priests, religious, and laity in canons 757-759) is in subordination (= trust) to the role of the bishops.

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    What is the big picture, Father? That we had a perfectly good Catechism from Baltimore and another Compendium but we had to do more experimenting with “being hip” so we had to introduce yet another sloppy novelty? They spent 3 years on this, why couldn’t they get it right the first time? The Pope also endorsed heartily the expansion of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. That does not seem to have been accepted by the Legion with as much enthusiasm as this flawed book.

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    And the US bishops let an imprimatur stand for almost a decade on a heretical book that was used nationwide for religious ed and didn’t come up with a list of approved religious ed texts for over 40 years.

    I was told by one bishop that all a book has to do to meet the requirements of the religious ed list is not be heretical. That’s a pretty horribly low bar.

    Again, I’m not saying that the book is heretical. I am saying that it is so poorly written in parts that you can come away with a non-Catholic view of things.

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    I think many of you have looked at YOUCAT only see its’ weak points. You cast judgement as though you were part of the magestirium–you are not, unless you have hidden your miter. No the book is not an infallible source but neither is the catechism. It is a teaching tool and it has all the references to the CCC that are needed to give fuller meaning. It also gives a broader picture for todays youth who have far more access to information than any one had in the past.

    serious matter, grave matter are more precise than saying “IT is a mortal sin!” three things are essential for a sin to be mortal. Grave matter is only one of those. Get a life and grow up. If you are not going to get out there and teach what the CHURCH teaches and not your own understanding of what that means then get out of the classroom because you not doing what you are supposed to do. You are to transmit faithfully all that the CHURCH teaches as she has always taught it. And yes we do obey our Pope not because he has a pile of degrees and is brilliant but because he is “Peter” to whom GOD the SON gave the most important promise. In modern speak JESUS said—“Pete go and teach I AM has your back.” If the pope says something on faith and morals we owe him serious obedience and if he says it with all his authority we can be certain that God is backing his statement.

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    @Larry Thanks for the insults.

    The book uses “serious offense against charity”, “contrary to the order of creation” not grave matter or serious matter. Can you find me a definition for “serious offense against charity”? Is it a venial sin? Is it possibly a mortal sin? Is it being stingy with the collection basket? Thank you also for the patronizing explanation of mortal sin. That really sets the tone for civil discussion.

    I don’t see anything in his endorsement of the Youcat that gives an indication that he said it with all his authority. Now you’re overreaching.

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    @ Larry, even if I didn’t agree with Ian (though I do) I certainly wouldn’t support your condescending and sarcastic response. AS I already said in an earlier post, I seriously doubt the Pope read this book; he is more endorsing the idea of a Youth Catechism than this specific one. Fortunately, people that do care about error have pointed out these thing, and changes will be made. Sadly, hundreds of thousands or flawed “teaching tools” have already gone out.

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    Through working with young adults (especially inner-city youth) I see the YOUCAT as a really special tool, and based simply on the “packaging and marketing” of it compared to the Compendium, it has the potential to really help encourage dialogue and even an interest in dialogue!

    But, after reading some of the critique in reference to the way the YOUCAT descrbes “sin” or uses the word “offense” in place of it, I do agree that it has a HUGE potential to confuse. The last few retreats that our Chastity Ministry “Corazon Puro” has led in the Bronx (with 100+ inner-city youth) has really shown me that we have to be very specific about what is SIN. Of course, we need to form youth about how to discern what is mortal and venial, but in some cases for the “new” christian, we must be specific.

    Therefore, the YOUCAT looks like a great tool to me, but only if the young reader is being led while reading it. (Like a study-guide or discussion-starter, not a book to merely take home and read)

    Don’t know how much my comment will help, but just wanted to throw it out there!

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    Here’s a good response from Mark Brumley, the CEO of Ignatius Press which published the YOUCAT:

    “I understand that some people like some books better than others–even catechetical books. So some people don’t care for YOUCAT. Some folks don’t like the graphics or the sidebars or the layout. Some people are wedded to an older style of catechism, such as the Baltimore Catechism. That’s fine. What’s more, someone may think this or that statement in YOUCAT (or, for that matter, the Catechism of the Catholic Church) might be better phrased, etc.

    No catechism is perfect, YOUCAT included. And sometimes faithful and orthodox Catholics can disagree about the best way to present topics, especially to young people. Ok. We got that. But it’s another thing altogether to claim that YOUCAT is doctrinally faulty or heretical. That is simply false. What’s more, people with pet theological peeves in areas in which the Church has given latitude shouldn’t accuse of infidelity or heterodoxy those who take a different stance on a particular position within that latitude. Some of the criticism of YOUCAT is just that sort of thing.

    YOUCAT has been reviewed by three Vatican offices, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It has the imprimatur of three episcopal conferences (Austrian, German, and Swiss), and the English edition has the imprimatur of the Archbishop of San Francisco. It was compiled under the direction of the primary editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. And the Pope wrote the foreword, in which he states that it is his heartfelt desire that young people study YOUCAT. Those things don’t make YOUCAT perfect, but they support the view that those who want to “recall” YOUCAT, or who otherwise reject it for what they purport are matters of orthodoxy, are overreacting or are simply offbase.”

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    HE is PUBLISHING “YOUCAT” What do you expect from him? An objective response? What started out as an Apostolate is now big business. I read that so-called imprimatur. It wasn’t very impressive. “Austrian Bishops’ Conference Imprimatur, Austrian Bishops’ Conference with the approval of the German Bishops’ Conference, November 29,2010; the Swiss Bishops’ Conference, December 6, 2010 with the prior approval of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for the Clergy, and the Pontifical Council for the Laity.”

    To say “No catechism is perfect” is foolish. The Roman Catechism was initiated by the Council under the order of Pius IV, edited by SAINT Charles Borromeo and promulgated by SAINT Pius V. Some minor edits were made, mostly from typos, but over the centuries it is certifiably free of error. The Baltimore Catechisms are derived from it. It’s not perfect because it was literally written and edited by the Holy Ghost Himself, but neither was the Bible. I can understand the aversion and fear the Progressives have against the Baltimore Catechism, but I’ve never understood why the NeoCons constantly try to (in the words of YOUCAT) “trivialize” it.

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    I am so very proud of the way that this discussion has brought to the fore the responsibility we all share as Catholics to see to it that our children are formed in the True Faith. YouCat is another in a long line of doctrinally suspect presentations of the Faith. The Compendium is far superior, and I personally highly recommend it over the very problematic YouCat.

    There are numerous attempts underway to replace the Faith once delivered, the Faith infallibly proclaimed and taught by Popes and Councils, with a “modernized” version which de facto supplants and amends those infallibly proclaimed acts of the Solemn Magisterium.

    The dogma of scriptural inerrancy is not something up for debate, or discussion. It is a defined dogma of our Faith. The YouCat is to be firmly and resolutely opposed on this score. It is wrong. Documents of higher magisterial authority are to be accepted over and against its novel mischaracterization on this score.

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    Rick and Michael:

    Contrary to what the YOUCAT Recall website says, the YOUCAT doesn’t dismiss Scriptural inerrancy. All the YOUCAT says is that the men who wrote down Scripture were “products of their time” and were also “dominated by its errors”.

    It doesn’t, however, go so far as to say that the Scriptures are also dominated by these errors. It just says these men were. Just as Popes down through history believed scientific and historical errors and were still able to communicate infallible truths, so Scripture can be inerrant despite authors who were “dominated by errors.”

    Could the YOUCAT editors have explained this more clearly? Oh, absolutely. As you suggest, they should have used precisely the same language as Dei Verbum. But what the YOUCAT says isn’t wrong, and that’s precisely why it was granted an Imprimatur. An Imprimatur doesn’t mean that the book is perfectly written but that it contains no errors. And that’s true.

    So instead of insinuating that you are more orthodox than all the clerics and councils who have approved and celebrated the book, and that the YOUCAT authors are intentional heretics who are knowingly subverting the Faith, take a breath and thank God that millions of young people who would never open the Compendium are now exploring the Church’s teachings.

    If nothing else, these few individual YOUCAT controversies (biblical inerrency, masturbation, homosexual relationships) have brought these issues to the forefront and will be discussed and understood even more. So flee from cynicism and at least celebrate that.

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    Ian, I get where you’re coming from, and while I do recognize that questions can insinuate statements, I think in this case the question was simply meant to represent a common question young people ask–nothing more.

    And really, as a young person, it’s a question (and an accusation) that I hear all the time, especially from atheist interlocutors.

    Even more, off-base questions are exactly why the YOUCAT was created: to provide on-base answers. Criticizing the YOUCAT on its crazy questions would be equivalent to criticizing Aquinas’ Summa. Both serve the same purpose.

    But even if you think this single question is suspect, that’s a far, far cry from the YOUCAT being “a disgrace”, a “muddled mess”, “doctrinally suspect”, or a “novel mischaracterization” as some of the other commenters have described it.

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    “….it is absolutely wrong and forbidden…to [state] that the sacred writer has erred. For the system of those who, in order to rid themselves of these difficulties, do not hesitate to concede that divine inspiration regards the things of faith and morals, and nothing beyond, because (as they wrongly think) in a question of the truth or falsehood of a passage we should consider not so much what God has said as the reason and purpose which He had in mind in saying it—this system cannot be tolerated…For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost…it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. This is the ancient and unchanging faith of the Church.”– Pope Leo XIII “Providentissimus Deus”

    “The Bible is not meant to convey precise historical information or scientific findings to us. Moreover, the authors were children of their time. They shared the cultural ideas of the world around them and often were also dominated by its errors. Nevertheless, everything that man must know about God and the way of his salvation is found with infallible certainty in Sacred Scripture.” — YouCat

    I leave it to the reader to determine which constitutes a novel mischaracterization of the Catholic Faith.
    Peace be with you.

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    It should be noted that the Catholic view of inspiration is not “dictation theory” despite the use of the term in Providentissimus Deus. That is important because it could lead to a *grave* misunderstanding that comes closer to the Muslim view of the Koran or the Fundamentalist view of the Bible than it does the Catholic view of Sacred Scripture.

    As the CCC states:

    105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”

    “For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.”

    106 God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. “To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more.”

    107 The inspired books teach the truth. “Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures.”

    108 Still, the Christian faith is not a “religion of the book.” Christianity is the religion of the “Word” of God, a word which is “not a written and mute word, but the Word is incarnate and living”. If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, “open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures.”

    And also with you.

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    To be fair, I think we agree that the entire Bible is inspired and is profitable for our salvation. We must figure out “why” God used certain language to condescend to us. I think what I am opposed to is seeing the Scripture as a science textbook. In one sense, it sets the boundaries of what science should not try to say, but on the other hand it gives science much room for inquiry, since from it we learn that God is good and in his creation we can know “his divine attributes”. The questions in the YOUCAT try to address what the modern young person confronts everyday, not to pose questions that imply something sinister.

    As teachers of the faith, we must open ourselves to the real issues that young people face and not think that through repetitions and formulas we can transmit the faith when much of that language may no longer register any meaning to their minds. In an analogy, we can start with questions in the YOUCAT, and once formed, help young people understand the ancient and tried and true formulas, terms, repetitions, etc. of the Church. However, to skip past this middle step is a recipe for catechetical failure.

    Your brother in Christ,


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    Dear Brent: Thank you for your response, I would like to ask a few questions.

    Hopefully our exchange will serve to edify the faithful.

    B: It should be noted that the Catholic view of inspiration is not “dictation theory” despite the use of the term in Providentissimus Deus.

    >> It should be noted that Providentissimus Deus is an authentic and Holy Spirit protected act of the ordinary magisterium. Your sentence above is not. Neither is the term “dictation theory” a phrase which conveys any magisterial teaching. In fact the phrase is apparently your own. The quote from Providentissimus Deus does convey magisterial teaching, and states:

    “For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost.”

    My first question for you, Brad, is this:

    Do you believe that there is a contradiction between what you mean to signify under your formulation “dictation theory”, and the above sentence taught by a Pope in his exercise of the teaching office of the Ordinary Magisterium?

    If so, please tell me what it is.

    If not, please tell me in precisely what way “dictation theory” differs from the sentence taught by a Pope in his exercise of the Ordinary magisterium.

    Thank you!


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    B: That is important because it could lead to a *grave* misunderstanding that comes closer to the Muslim view of the Koran or the Fundamentalist view of the Bible than it does the Catholic view of Sacred Scripture.

    >> My second question, Brad, is this:

    Do you believe that the following sentence taught by a Pope in his exercise of the teaching office of the Ordinary Magisterium, is “closer to the Muslim view of the Koran or the Fundamentalist view of the Bible than…. the Catholic view of Sacred Scripture”?

    If not, would you say that instead you might be appearing ascribing to a Pope, the error you perceive to exist in something called by you “dictation theory”?

    Or would you say that the Pope’s words are, in fact, teaching something called by you “dictation theory”?


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    Sorry, forgot to repost the quote.

    Here it is:

    “For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost.”– Pope Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus

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    The name is Brent not Brad. Also, I think it is not helpful to point out that neither of our sentences are protected from error.

    “Dictation theory” is not a phrase I made up but a part of the theological vocabulary that denotes one particular view of inspiration. This view corresponds best to the Muslim and Fundamentalist view of the Sacred Page not the Catholic view.

    We agree that “dictation” does not necessarily have to mean “dictation theory”, or namely the view that the Bible was directly dictated by God to its writers and they merely wrote down what they heard (think scribes). Further, the word “dicto” in Latin has various senses, and the word “dictation” may not be the best translation given what it implies in view of the issues at hand (the word can be translated prescribe, recommend or order). The following sentences in Providentissimus Deus corroborate what I am saying:

    “Hence, because the Holy Ghost employed men as His instruments, we cannot therefore say that it was these inspired instruments who, perchance, have fallen into error, and not the primary author. For, by supernatural power, He so moved and impelled them to write — He was so present to them — that the things which He ordered, and those only, they, first, rightly understood, then willed faithfully to write down, and finally expressed in apt words and with infallible truth.”

    What this implies is that each author used their words, their style, and that all of this brought glory to God. Their pens were not just instruments, but they (each person) were themselves instruments. In the same way that Christ is fully God and fully man, Scripture has as its author God and St. Mark, Moses, St. Peter, etc. That’s why usage, style, pace, perspective, etc. are all different.

    What is commonly understood as “scientific errors” in the Bible totally misses the point. It would be an error if a 4th century B.C. person understood natural laws in the same way that a 16th century person would. The fact that the authors understood the world within the culture of their time, makes the bible more true. Further, the Bible has different senses. What might seem error to one person because of the way they read it (literal), clearly is not error when read in the right way (analogical, metaphorical, etc.).

    Lastly, my point wasn’t to say that our Pope or you were teaching dictation theory, but rather that someone could misunderstand our position as dictation theory.

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    B: To be fair, I think we agree that the entire Bible is inspired and is profitable for our salvation.

    >> I certainly agree that the entire Bible is inspired, profitable for salvation, was dictated in all its parts by the Holy Ghost, and was consigned to writing by true authors who made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though the Holy Ghost acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more.

    Do you agree with all of these things as we.. Brad?

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    Now if you do agree, how is it possible that the Holy Ghost dictated to the human authors that they should write in Scripture the errors of their time, by which they were dominated? Are you intending to suggest, as YouCat does, that the Holy Ghost wanted these errors of time written in Holy Scripture?

    God forbid.

    I trust the problematic nature of YouCat’s treatment of the dogma of Scriptural inerrancy is beginning to emerge more clearly.

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    It is certainly try that the Bible is not a scientific text. It is also true that I am completely unaware of anyone who at any time has ever suggested that it was. It is, finally, also true that whenever the Bible- dictated in all its parts as it was by the Holy Ghost, by Whom human authors used their own faculties to consign to writing exactly what the Holy Ghost wanted written, and no more- whenever the Bible touches upon matters pertaining to science, it is infallibly true.


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    Dear Rick,

    The YOUCAT was not my first go-at-it regarding the doctrine of inspiration. I spent time working on this topic during my undergraduate in theology, 03′, which was well before the YOUCAT was even an idea.

    I explained to you why it is important that a biblical writer has their century’s world view. This fact makes the Holy Spirit all-wise in giving greater credibility to the authenticity of the Bible. We can trust that the authors of the Bible are who they say they are. Praise Be Jesus Christ!

    We both agree that Bible has no errors.

    I’m not sure of an instance where the Bible teaches natural science. If it does, then I would assume it is true.

    Peace in Christ,


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    Let me clarify the last question a bit.

    Science might come to believe, at some point in its noble and endless detective work, that the best explanation for the appearance of man was the spontaneous genetic mutation of an original breeding pair from out of a preexisting non-human population.

    We could safely dismiss such a scientific theory, no matter how persuasive it might appear to be at a given time in scientific history, since we would know that such a spontaneous generation were impossible. Scripture has told us that God created Adam and Eve, and they were not the result of a spontaneous genetic mutation from a pre existing non-human population.


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    I like the foreword though “You need to know what you believe. You need to know your faith with that same precision with which an IT specialist knows the inner workings of a computer.”-PBXVI

    Godwin Delali Adadzie, BSC I.T.

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    @Brandon The issue with that particular question is that the answer isn’t one. Yes, some people have gone much farther in their criticism than I have but I believe that there enough problems and enough better options to opt-out of carrying it.

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    I haven’t had time to read all of the comments yet. However, I would like to say that I was at World Youth Day and received a copy of the YOUCAT. I have not read the whole thing yet obviously, but of what I have it read, it is amazing. No, it is not the entire catechism. But it really does help young people be more engaged in their faith. I cannot wait to read it in its entirety.

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    I am amazed at just how many people out there know more about the Catholic faith than the Pope (or Joseph Ratzinger, for that matter).

    If the Church issues a book recommended by the Pope himself, who was the former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that teaches error, then we might as well just give up and become Protestants.

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